Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to Make a Tunnel Book

About a month ago I posted some pictures of tunnel books that two Grade 6 classes made.  I promised the tutorial and here it is.

The tunnel book starts off as a regular accordion book and then halfway it flips up exposing a tunnel to the back page.

 It's a great project to incorporate writing and the visual arts.

The tunnel section can represent a transition in the story, literal or figurative.

With the Grade 6'rs it was part of their novel study.  The had to choose a portion of the book they had read and then incorporate this into a tunnel book.


- 1 piece of 11x17 white paper for practice and planning
- rectangular piece of wc or good weight paper, by good weight you want it thicker than printer paper but not 300lb wc, a 90lb would work well here, I use roughly a 12.5 x 19.5 which is a 1/4 sheet of the 90-110lb wc we have on hand
- ruler
- pencil and eraser
- scissors
- watercolors, tempera disk, acrylics, colored pencil, etc. any medium to add color
- fine sharpie
- cardboard
- tacky glue


Now bear with me here.  It really is easy once you get the hang of it.  I just need to break it down into step by step.
Hand out the 11x17 printer paper.  This will be our practice book.  We will also use this as a plan for our good copy.

Fold in half both vertically and horizontally.  I added black lines to show the folds. You do not need to add these.

Lay out flat.

Now fold each side into the middle.

Unfold and you will have 8 sections.

Now this style of accordion book is called a pants book.  I use this term with the kids as it's an easy way for them to remember. 

Starting on one side cut along the horizontal fold line up to the last 2 sections.

When you hold it up it looks like a pair of pants.

With young kids you might want to make a mark at the stopping point to remind them.
Place your pair or pants in front of you so that the seat is on the right (feet would come out on the left if this was a real pair of pants).

Now in book making there are 2 main folds, a mountain and a valley.  Mountains poke up and valleys go down.  Click and the photo for a larger image. I have them marked.

You want both pant legs starting on the left to have a valley fold, then a mountain, and then another valley.

Fold up the top leg accordion style keeping the folds as outlined previously.

You can now take these top pages and flip them down.

In the tunnel book these pages will form the tunnel which sits up.

Incidentally if you wanted to just make an accordion book with no tunnel.  Just flip these pages the other way to the back.  This would give you a nice accordion with single pages and one double in the middle.

For both books you now can fold up the remaining leg of the book keeping those same folds.

Your book should open nicely with 3 pages and then you can flip up the remaining pages and they can sit upright.

Now the tunnel.

Unfold the book.  To create the tunnel you need to cut out 3 windows in the first 3 pages of the top pant leg. 

Ovals are the easiest but once you get the hang of it you can experiment.  The windows do not need to all be the same shape but you want to get smaller as you go making sure you can see thru them all to the final page.

Easiest way to cut the windows is to poke a hole in the center and then cut away.

Now when you stand up that tunnel you should be able to see thru to that back page.

Now that you've done your practice book you might as well use it to plan out what you want to do for your good copy.

When you have your plan make your pants book with your good paper.

Just like before.

The older the student the more elaborate your windows can be.

I also find it best to cut the large window out first.....I can then figure out where I want my second window and then again for the third.

Now add color using whatever medium you wish.  For grade 6 they painted all the backgrounds and then added all the details.  They drew the details onto plain white paper, colored them in with pencil crayon and then cut and pasted onto their painted backgrounds. 

You need to paint the backs of the tunnel pages for a finished look.

You can now add text if you wish.  I printed out my story on the computer and then pasted it on.

I also used a fine sharpie to add some outlines to my paintings.

For the front and back cover you might want to add some weight to your book.

Cardboard covers are a nice touch.

Cut 2 rectangles, the same size as your pages, out of cardboard. (chipboard or corrugated).

Paint the cardboard and then add a title.

Fold up your tunnel book and glue the cardboard cover to the first page.

Now the back cover is glued on.  It should be the back of the 4th page on the bottom leg of the pants.

That's it. My tunnel book is called 'Finding Paradise'.
I know I still have Maui on the brain.....why not give a tunnel book a try!
See you next time.


  1. Very nice work! Super! Congratulations!

  2. Oh my goodness.. this is amazing.I am so envious of your artistic ability, I really have no drawing skills (I'm being completely sincere here, it's just who I am unfortunately!) I love your creations and I'm racking my brain for how I can incorporate this with my students. Great job as always!

    1. I wonder if you can cut out magazine photos instead of ‘arting’, lol! I couldn’t draw like this either. Wonderful craft!

  3. Thanks for taking the time to create the great tutorial!

  4. congratulations your artwotk is amazing and inspiring!!!

  5. Awesome art book!!And your tutorial is perfect!Thanks for sharing!

  6. This is amazing! I've never seen one before. Thanks for sharing, i might have to try this :)

  7. Thank you for tutorial! The book looks great!

  8. I love this idea of creating tunnel books! I was wondering, do you just cut 3 holes in the first 3 sections and leave the rest alone? I am a little confused. I want to use this in my grade 5 class with a novel study. Could you possibly give me more detailed instructions? Thank you:)

    1. You do only cut holes in those first 3 pages but when you fold up the book those pages are near the end. The top part of the pants book is the second half of the book.The pants book is an accordion style book. I would make a little sample for yourself just out of a legal sized piece of paper, it will start to make sense as you fold it up. Give it a try and if it still doesn't work for you let me know.

  9. Hi- I just wanted to share that I used your tunnel book as inspiration for a class I taught to kids today. Here is the blog post about our process - http://pamelapenney.com/2015/04/25/i-found-paradise-young-artists-workshop-2015/ Thanks for your wonderful ideas!

  10. I really loved how it came out.its really art.thanks.
    here is my tunnel book too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTa7WsBInb0

  11. Inventive, clear. Well done. :)

  12. Fantastic project & lesson plan! You explained it spectacularly! Thank you for sharing!

  13. Fantastic! Directions were clear and simple, the end result is amazing! I appreciate you! :)

  14. What a delightful project for all ages. Thank you for your clear directions and photos. I can't wait to try this as a rainy day project to include in a junk journal I'm working on.

  15. I LOVE this! Working on my practice one now:) Thank you!